Regulatory costs inched along again this week, with $362 million in new burdens. Annual burdens were $28 million, compared to $105 million in benefits; regulators added slightly more than 42,000 paperwork hours. The per capita regulatory burden for 2015 is $425.
The August jobs report was not expected to reveal a real change in the path of the “meh” recovery – but it was expected to be crucial to the path of Fed policy.
On the heels of the administration’s “Clean Power Plan,” which will cost more than $8 billion annually and help to shrink coal generation by 48 percent, there are new proposals to actually expand the scope of federal intervention in energy markets. One plan proposes to grow solar generation by more than 700 percent, compared to the national baseline. Let’s take a look at the costs and benefits of this supernova of solar growth.
According to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute, there is an “historic divergence between productivity and a typical worker’s pay.” This is not the first time this myth has reared its head and won’t be the last. It is a fable that has been repeated as an explanation for low wages since the recession. When the American Action Forum (@AAF) researched the same issue, it found that since 1964, actual labor productivity and compensation have grown at essentially the same pace.
It’s been about two weeks since the Department of Labor (DOL) concluded its final round of hearings on the proposed fiduciary rule, and DOL seems more intent than ever on finalizing the rule with little to no change. After four days of testimony from nearly 80 experts falling on both sides of the debate, few, if any, new arguments emerged.
Look past the flaws of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) – the claims of over-testing, narrowing of the curriculum, and the unfair labeling of schools. Keep looking, if you can, past the federal intrusion of the Obama administration’s waivers and their overly prescriptive directives and you will find, at the heart of recent reform efforts, sound policy that rejects decades of inequalities and injustice that presents itself by means of a growing achievement gap.
Congress has a lot on the to-do list when it comes back into session next week. With a deadline of September 17th, debate on the Iran nuclear deal is likely to dominate the congressional calendar. But there is another significant deadline looming on September 30th: the end of the fiscal year. If Congress does not pass appropriations bills this month, a government shutdown is on the horizon.
On the heels of President Obama’s $8.4 billion “Clean Power Plan,” policymakers have started offering more details about their energy and regulatory plan. One plan calls for a 700 percent increase in solar power, from about 20 gigawatts (GW) of projected generation by 2020, to 140 GW. This seven-fold increase in solar capacity won’t be cheap. According to American Action Forum (AAF) calculations, it will cost up to $240 billion to install this additional solar capacity by 2020. The climate benefits, always uncertain and dependent on the discount rate, vary between $6.1 billion and $18.3 billion annually.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released payment data for the 100 most commonly billed discharges by Diagnosis Related Group (DRG) at more than 3,000 hospitals using the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) in 2013. These payments represent over 7 million discharges, or 60 percent of the total IPPS discharges billed to Medicare that year. The following chart shows the top 10 costliest DRGs to the Medicare system as a whole, counting payments by both the government (and/or supplemental private insurance) and beneficiaries (including copayments and deductibles). These 10 DRGs were responsible for nearly 1.7 million discharges with total payments per discharge averaging nearly $23,000 for a total cost of more than $26 billion. As illustrated, much of the cost is driven by the number of discharges—particularly for major joint replacement (DRG 470) and septicemia (DRG 871)—rather than the cost of the services. Percutaneous cardiovascular procedure (DRG 247) was the only DRG in this top 10 that was not also in the top 10 for number of discharges or average total payments per discharge.
Congress recently reauthorized the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a trade preference program for eligible sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries. AGOA is an important trade tool that the U.S. uses to spur economic development and to ensure our trade presence in a rapidly developing region.